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Flashcards in Medieval Europe - Romanesque Sculpture Deck (17)
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characteristics of Romanesque sculpture

1. great unity between sculpture + architecture

2. capitals, arches, tympana were main locations used for sculpture

3. sculptural forms distorted to fit capitals + geometric design of arches

4. mainly religious imagery (particularly death)

5. used to teach illiterate pilgrims religious concepts

6. narrative subject matter: stories about saints

7. animal, vegetable, human forms distorted

8. The Last Judgement is a common theme

9. grotesque imagery is a feature throughout

10. sculpture painted at the time

11. art is quite abstract, v little realism attempted

12. human forms sometimes blocky, often elongated

13. foliage + drapery treated in a v decorative manner w/ swirling patterns


The Last Judgement tympanum, St. Foy de Conques

-over main portal
-relief sculpture of The Last Judgement
-can be divided into 3 sections
-centre: Christ raising his hand in blessing
-to right of Christ: depiction of heaven w/ realistic figures of apostles + a procession of saints
-to left: graphic depiction of sinners tormented + condemned to hell.
-upper level shows weighing of souls + beyond gates below are devils pushing the damned into snarling jaws
-an inscription in Latin translates as "O sinners, if you do not mend your ways, know that you will suffer a dreadful fate"
-sculpture originally painted at time


The Last Judgement

judgement of humankind expected in some religious traditions to take place at the end of the world


Mission of the Apostles tympanum, Basilica of St Mary Magdalene Vèzelay

-depicts Mission of the Apostles, ie. to convert all nations to Christianity
-centre: oversized monumental figure of Christ
-either side: apostles, holding books
-Christ stretches out his arms + sends rays of light from hands onto heads of apostles
-folds of draperies wind-blown + stand out in high relief
-lintel represents non-Christian peoples w/ pig snouts + covered in feathers + elephant ears + other deformities
-> supposed to prove non-Christians were in need of salvation


Mystic Mill Capital, Basilica of St Mary Magdalene Vèzelay

-typical Romanesque format (circular base, rectangular top supporting arch above)
-symbolises continuity between Old + New Testaments
-Moses on left pours grain into a mill (represent Old T)
-St Paul the apostle collects flour (Rep. Christ + New T)
-Figures carved in high relief
-windows light helps to show folds in their clothes
-foliage in v. large, mill v. small in proportion to figures


Death of Lazarus capital, Basilica of St Mary Magdalene Vèzelay

-carved in lower relief than Mystic Mell
-Depicts unhappy death of rich man Dives who refused food scraps to beggar Lazarus
-snakes encircle Dives' money bags under bed
-demons torment Dives' soul as it leaves his body
-Lazarus' soul ushered to heaven by angels on left side of capital


Gislebertus - Bg info

-first trained as sculptor at Cluny
-worked on Basilica of St Mary Magdalene
-worked for 10 years as master sculptor on St Lazare Cathedral


Gislebertus - works

-work expressive + full of variety
-carved the west + north portals + sixty capitals
-inscription "Gislebertus made this" under Christ's feet on west portal tympanum -> unusual at time for artists to sign in prominent place


The Last Judgement Tympanum, St. Lazare Cathedral, Autun


-educate illiterate w/ terrifying scenes of damnation + point to their need for pilgrimage + repentance
-carved in high relief from large blocks
-assembled using pulleys + scaffolding


Dream of the Magi Capital, St. Lazarus Cathedral, Autun

-shows Gislebertus' dramatic style
-Angel tries to awaken sleeping magi (kings)
-Angel appeals to 3 to follow star (shown top right)
-Story continued in further columns along nave
-Upper block shows imaginative quality of his work
-Placing of angel above 3 kings creates v. appealing composition
-Angel's halo + the star extend into flat upper moulding of the capital



-a capital forms the top of a column
-Romanesque capitals derived from ancient Roman examples


decoration of Romanesque capitals

-figurative forms distorted to fit shape of capitals
-decorated with grotesque monsters, animals, birds, humans
-figurative forms often combined with plant foliage
-biblical scenes + legends of local saints
-freq. work in sequence w/ other capitals to tell a story


treatment of human figure vocab

-human qualities


Narrative functions of sculptures

tells a story

sequences to the stories


decorative functions of sculptures

images of figures + goliage

heaven + hell

scaring people/illiterate


Flight into Egypt capital, St Lazare Cathedral, Autun

located in nave opposite of Dream of Magic series


The Last Judgement Tympanum, St. Lazare Cathedral, Autun

-massive oversized figure of Christ in centre presides over judgement process of separating saved from damned
-On Christ's right: Virgin Mary, Apostles, St. Peter guarding gate to heaven, Angel helping one of saved into heaven
-On left: angel + devil weight souls of dead on weighing scales, prophets w/ halos
-On right lintel: good ascend to heaven, 2 pilgrims w/ bads + scallop shells (symbolise pilgrimage to Santiago de C)
-On left lintel: damned are tormented in hell
-On outer arch: medallions w/ 4 seasons, labours of the months, zodiac signs